Part two: Eight Contributing Factors to the Development of C-PTSD


4 In-utero influence:

Infants born to mothers who were pregnant during a traumatic event that could have resulted in a diagnosis of PTSD (such as during the 9/11 attacks) had lower birth weights and increased levels of cortisols (chemicals that respond to stress). Although this does not necessarily result in childhood abuse or neglect, such infants can be harder to soothe, more prone to colic, and at increased risk for PTSD.

5 Family dynamics:

Parents develop different with different children. Factors that influence this bond with a child can include such things as comfort level with a child’s gender, readiness to have a child, and events surrounding the pregnancy or birth. For example, unplanned or unwanted pregnancies can lead to resentment or anger toward a child, or a difficult pregnancy or traumatic birthing process might cause a parent to reject or blame a child.

6 Modeling:

Children who grow up in abusive homes tend to be exposed to multiple risk factors. Medical care may not be consistent. There may be insufficient modeling of hygiene practices, or a lack of encouragement of health-promoting behaviors such as exercise or healthy eating. There may also be excessive modeling of high-risk behaviors like smoking or substance abuse.

7 Presence of a learning disability or ADHD:

There is a strong correlation between children with learning disabilities, including Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and child abuse. This connection appears to be bidirectional. Children who are abused are at greater risk for the development of learning disabilities because of the impact of chronic stress and trauma on their developing brain. Additionally, children who have a learning disability or ADHD are at greater risk of being abused when parents misunderstand or are triggered by their child’s cognitive differences, distractibility, or impulsivity.

8 Lack of resilience factors:

Resilience factors are those protective resources, such as parents, that alleviate the impact of childhood trauma. Research suggests that when parents are not supportive, even an attachment to an adult in your community who understands, nurtures, and protects you can lessen the impact of traumatic childhood events. Additional protective factors include participation in activities outside of the home and developing positive peer relationships. When resilience factors are lacking, the impact of neglect or abuse can be amplified by a feeling that those around you have failed to protect you.

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